17th January 2014
I found my book reviewed in my alma mater's magazine at Oxford (called Christ Church Matters.) Nice to think of those fellow students who looked askance at me in those days noticing and saying, "But, God, she was so odd..." Therein you have one of the less noble reasons writers write. Oh well, only human.
I received a form letter from my publisher a couple of days ago noting that it is only eight weeks until publication, and I had better plug into my Author Portal and make sure I'm doing everything I'm supposed to. I was on the phone yesterday to my agent, talking about such things. He bemoans the fact that there is no forum for book clubs to go to for reading ideas, because a book like mine could surely use one. It's odd that in spite of our high tech age, the movement of any given publication still relies on word of mouth. It's just that word can spread more quickly. But you still need those people in the first place using their mouths and lips to say to their neighbor, "I've just read such a good book, Darling!" He thinks we need to make inroads into communities of readers, like those of historical fiction, feminist and fantasy fiction. I have been attempting this sort of thing very clumsily on Twitter.
Meanwhile, two different book blogs, The Qwillery and My Bookish Ways, have asked to put my book up on their websites and conduct interviews and post guest blogs from me. They must have found me through my blog!
Meanwhile, I have submitted the title of my talk for Muses and the Market Place for May 4th in Boston on Grub Street: Art from the Heart - Getting out of the Way of Your Writing. I think we've been taught to overthink our role as artists instead of just listening, because the first requirement of any writer is to have good hearing. It's what Nietzsche called "psychological antennae." You have to have your ear to the ground, picking up the slightest pulse. The slightest pulse can be a moment of shattering insight. It's when we try to pull our art out of ourselves, particularly out of our heads, that our hands come up empty or sticky with dross. We have to be connected, like the shaman is, like the people in Avatar are when they connect their tails to the mother tree. Carl Jung would have loved that image - it's what he meant by the Collective Man (in the same vein as the collective unconscious. The writer as any other artist is an artisan whose medium is the collective unconscious.) So you can't get caught up in yourself - if you do, you end up blowing out your brains figuratively and in a few cases actually. So you connect your tail to the tree of knowledge and you listen.
I am really getting out of the way of my writing these days. In fact I am so out of the way, I haven't sat down at my desk in my office since I finished the sequel to Veil of Time. It's been months, and it's beginning to wear on me. It's not a case of writer's block. It's a case of being caught in the headlights. I'm not sure which direction to turn, and I am a little frozen in place, waiting for the juggernaut to pass. It would help if one of the many drivers of this publishing machine would put their head out of the window and shout out a word of encouragement, even the suggestion that I hop on the back and enjoy the ride. But I seem fixed down here at the side of the road, such a peaceful rural country road where I can usually hear the birds singing, the background hum of grasshoppers.
It's at times like this that you need the agent. You need him to say, "It's okay, let's have a party." Which is what we're going to do in Boston in May. A party for my book and for the Boston literati. I will put on my silk frock and sip cocktails and be full of what my book is and isn't and how long a writer like myself sat in the wings waiting for a party to be celebrated at. And then I will pick up my backpack and head back to the country road, smooth out the dirt and hang boxes in the trees for the birds to nest in. I will be quiet and lay my ear to the good earth and the good mother from which all proceeds.
Painting by Steven Cronin: www.steven-cronin-art.com